May 4, 2012
De Ro de-termined to de-feat TFC
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Feeling desperate yet, coach?
"No, never," said TFC manager Aron Winter, whose briefness on Friday made it sound as if the Dutchman was taking a page out of the John Tortorella school of media relations.
"I'm feeling well, confident and faithful," he continued, despite the Reds remaining pointless nearly two months into the season.
Set to host DC United Saturday afternoon, the Dutchman steered clear of revisiting a pair of trades that saw former TFC captains Dwayne De Rosario and Maicon Santos eventually end up with the Black and Red.
The two have been massive in the U.S. capital and return to BMO Field looking to hurt their former club -- something that didn't bother the manager that sent them packing.
"No," said Winter, when asked if he regretted trading De Rosario, the one-time face of the club.
In his first MLS return to Toronto since being traded to New York last year, the 2011 Golden Boot winner said his former coach's remarks weren't a surprise.
"(Winter's) not going to say yes," De Rosario said with a grin. "We all know about that "¦ it will come out one day "¦ if they wanted me here, they could have kept me here."
With Santos having his best start to an MLS season, there is concern United's upstart attack will see the Reds set a damning league record if it drops its eighth consecutive match to start the season.
And while De Rosario granted sympathy towards his hometown fans for having to take in yet another disappointing league campaign, the Scarborough native reiterated his intentions to issue his former club a record-breaking loss.
"It's going to be a tough (game against) a team that's coming out to not make it eight (losses)," De Rosario said. "We have to do whatever we can to make it eight."
Both clubs enter Saturday's Eastern Conference game after taxing midweek performances. The Reds drew a first-leg Canadian Cup match in Montreal on Wednesday while DC dropped a 5-3 goal-fest in San Jose.
As the two clubs have combined to concede 41 times in all competitions this year, every indication is that Saturday's match will feature more of the same with both clubs capitalizing on a pair of vulnerable back lines.
"In the front they've got some good players," Winter said. "We know what their weaknesses are and we're going to play our own game. (We'll) start not to lose the game, but that doesn't mean we're going to play with everybody in the box."
While Wednesday's road result might have instilled a dose of confidence across Toronto's back four, the Reds created next to nothing in the attacking third -- a concern considering the amount of goals the club is conceding within the league.
Although it sets up TFC to advance from next week's second leg, a similar performance won't be enough to contain United's dynamic offence, which spreads the ball around and can hurt opposing teams in a number of ways.
"We all know all the different attacking angles that they've got so we've got to be watchful," Richard Eckersley said. "We've just got to get out of this hole that we're in at the minute and we'll build from there."
Continuing to claim that TFC's winless record doesn't do justice to the way it competed in April, the players are hoping their performance last weekend will carry over at home.
"We have to be positive," Torsten Frings said. "You could see it in Salt Lake -- we played well. We fought for every metre. I think we deserved more, but unfortunately we didn't get something there. We have to get three points and I think we'll change the direction."
But nothing would indicate the Reds have the ability to hold their opponents this season. Toronto has scored twice in its last two league outings before conceding three times on both occasions.
"We don't have to be afraid of anybody," Winter said. "We are preparing ourselves very well. We know what we can expect. We know (De Rosario and Santos)."
Which means he'll remember the Canadian's "shake 'n bake" celebration -- a move De Rosario said he will use if he scores in front of former BMO Field supporters.
DC United at Toronto FC
Today, 4 p.m., SNO
Maicon Santos vs. Adrian Cann
With six goals in eight D.C. starts, the Brazilian joins a long list of former Reds that continue to excel in other cities. In 32 appearances for TFC, the club's former captain scored just 10 MLS goals over two seasons before finding new life in the U.S. capital. While most will be on hand to see De Rosario make his BMO Field return, after watching Santos single-handily lift the Black and Red into second place in the Eastern Conference last month, Toronto's centre back pairing of Cann and Miguel Aceval needs to keep close watch. As he's not a threat on the dribble, the duo must step to the Brazilian before he has time to unleash what has proven to be a clinical left-footed shot this year.
EARLY TACKLES - He may have quality around the box, but Santos is streaky. A few hard challenges will see the softy all but shrivel up and disappear. A player that hates physicality, TFC's back third needs to send an unfriendly message following first kick.
ORGANIZATION - Although they'll need to get forward this match, the Reds did well to preserve a clean sheet Wednesday in Montreal. With De Rosario looking to pick up balls and jump on the counter, Toronto needs to limit the Canadian's ability to run at TFC's vulnerable, and slow, central defence. When the Reds stay compact, it's difficult for anyone to score against them.
TAKE YOUR CHANCES - United gave up five goals in San Jose Wednesday, three of which came inside the first half hour. Don't expect DC's experienced back four to concede the same number of opportunities the club gifted the Quakes midweek. The Reds must convert a few of the four to six quality chances they will create today.
Danny Koevermans and Nick Soolsma took part in first-team training Friday. Following practice, Winter listed both as game time decisions when asked if either would be available for selection against D.C. United "¦ Nicholas Lindsay completed a workout with an individual trainer along the sideline Friday. Following an apparent snowmobiling accident that nearly ended the 19-year-old's career two years ago, the young Canadian laboured through some short running drills for the first part of training "¦ Due to thunderstorms in the area Thursday, D.C. United had trouble reaching the city and could be lagged following a midweek loss in San Jose.